Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bobcat Leg - Sous Vide

The bobcat stew meat I had several years ago was some of the best wild game I've eaten. It was very mild, had a nice texture and it took on the flavor that was added to it. So when I called Anshu Pathak of Exotic Meat Market recently and he mentioned that he had bobcat hind leg available, I had to try it. 
Bobcat (from Wikipedia)
Bobcat hind leg
Bobcat hind leg
Bobcat hind leg
I really liked adding cherry balsamic vinegar to the beaver stew meat I had recently and wanted to do something similar. We have some mandarin orange balsamic vinegar from the Stockyards Oil Company we purchased in Fort Worth which has a dark, sweet, citrusy flavor and is marvelous in salads.  I decided to cook the bobcat based on mandarin orange as the base flavor.

I did an internet search for flavors that pair well with mandarin orange in cooking and determined to use fennel and anise seed, which have a slight licorice flavor. Further, in the January 2015 issue of Bonappetit, they had a roasted citrus and avocado salad with baked orange and Meyer lemon slices. The baking caramelizes the sugars in the citrus and adds depth to it. Based on that article, Judy tried baking naval orange and Meyer lemon slices and we found that they massacred the baking sheet and made it very difficult to clean. So I decided to do the same thing, but cook naval orange slices in a frying pan instead of the oven. 
Naval orange slices in oil in a frying pan.
I obtained a naval orange and some mandarin oranges from trees in our backyard (one of the benefits of living in California in February) and cut the naval orange into thin slices and coated the slices with canola oil and a little salt and pepper. The orange slices were added to a hot frying pan with a little canola oil and the orange slices caramelized much faster and better than the ones we'd tried in the oven. They looked really great. I set them aside with some sprigs from the fennel to add to the sous vide packet later. 
Caramelized naval orange slices with fennel springs.
The bobcat leg was coated in canola oil, Himalayan pink sea salt and ground pepper and then placed in the same pan that had cooked the orange slices. It was browned on all sides, including the ends, then set on a plate to cool down before putting it in the sous vide bag. After it had cooled, butter was rubbed over the bobcat leg and it was then placed in the sous vide bag along with slices of the caramelized orange slices, fennel sprigs,  anise seed and a nice dose of mandarin orange balsamic vinegar. 
Browning bobcat leg.

Browned bobcat leg coated with butter.
The sous vide bag was vacuum sealed and placed in the sous vide cooker at a temperature of 60 degrees Centigrade for eight and a half hours. 
Vacuum packed bobcat leg with orange slices, fennel sprigs and mandarin orange balsamic vinegar in the sous vide cooker.
As the time neared to pull the bobcat leg out of the sous vide, a whole yellow onion was diced, along with a whole fennel, and fried on a low heat in some canola oil until it was cooked through. Then mandarin orange slices from four or five mandarin oranges were added to the mix in the frying pan just long enough for them to get hot and mix in the the fennel and onion. 
Fennel, onion and mandarin orange slice mixture.
I noticed that the vacuum pack did not look as tight as normal and discovered when I pulled it out of the bath that a bobcat bone had punched a hole in the bag. However, it did not adversely impact the taste of the meat. 
Bobcat leg out of the sous vide bag.
The bobcat leg cut easily into nice big slices of beautiful meat with just a tinge of pinkness. It was very soft and mild, had the texture of roast beef, and took on just a slight licorice and sweet flavor. The bobcat was served with the fennel/onion, mandarin orange mix. I loved the pop in the mouth of the warm sweet mandarin orange slices as it combined with the meat and fennel for a complex mixture of taste and textures. 
Lots of meat which cut into nice slices.
Bowl of cut bobcat meat.
Bobcat meat with fennel, onion and mandarin orange slice mixture.
Bobcat is wonderful. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. That looks so good-- and I think it helps that you can pick the citrus right off of your trees.

  3. I think cleaning the frying pan after caramelizing the citrus was worse than cleaning the baking sheet. Maybe a foil-covered baking sheet next time. Anyway, you did end up with a really interesting blend of flavors, a nice compliment to the unusual meat.

  4. Humorous ... One of your favorite wild game meats happens to be "BOB-cat"!


  5. Humorous ... One of your favorite wild game meats happens to be "BOB-cat"!